March 30, 2011

"A New Birth of Freedom"

Ken Burns is an amazing and highly skilled documentarian/filmmaker. He and his Florentine Films crew have focused their camera on such diverse topics as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Hart Benton, and Jack Johnson, the Brooklyn Bridge and baseball, all the while maintaining a distinct, recognizable, and oft-imitated style. In my humble onion, there's a level of genius at play in his work, and he has definitely produced works of art.

March 25, 2011

"Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)"

"Cereza Rosa," or "Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)" or "Gummy Mambo" is the English version of "Cerisier rose et pommier blanc," a popular song with music by Louiguy written in 1950. French lyrics to the song by Jacques Larue and English lyrics by Mack David both exist and recordings of both have been quite popular. However, Perez Prado's recording of the song as an instrumental with his orchestra featuring trumpeter Billy Regis, whose trumpet sound would slide down and up before the melody would resume, was the most popular version in 1955, reaching number one on the Billboard charts. The most popular vocal version in the U.S. was by Alan Dale, reaching #14 on the charts in 1955.

Perez Prado

I could have sworn this song was used during the Lake Tahoe party scenes near the beginning of The Godfather II!

March 13, 2011

"(Take Me to) Aruanda"

There are singers who are, for many of us, an acquired taste. The tone and timbre of their voices are things for which one is challenged to endure as they squirm and writhe through the first few, nascent listenings. Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash - these are/were singers who would probably not even get past the local audition stage of American Idol (and that can't be a good sign!). But if one is patient, and survives early exposure, the overall, musical quality of their voices (no doubt profoundly helped by the quality of the strong material they recorded/record) eventually come through, and there can be great payoff and rewards for the listener.